This is Writer to the Rescue with a powerful promotional idea for business owners and organizational leaders.
Before I start “saving the world one word at a time” by telling about the superpowers of a news release, I’d like to talk numbers. As a mild-mannered newspaper editor – my alter-ego for the last 7-plus years – I touched 70-90 articles/photos a week. Included in those files were press releases of all sorts.
According to my calculations, I’ve processed nearly 8,000 news releases in my lifetime. I’ve read plenty of really good news releases, and some, well, let’s just say they fell short of their mission.
Let me offer these 13 tips about what makes a good news release:
1. Be Newsworthy: Choosing your topic is a good first step. Write a news release when you have an announcement to make like a milestone anniversary, new acquisition, open house, etc.
2. Be Timely: Distribute your news release within 2 weeks of the event or date you’re recognizing. Know and follow the publication schedules of your news outlets.
3. Be Courteous: Address editors by name and write a short note explaining your purpose for sending the news release. For a time-sensitive news release, suggest an ideal time for publication. Thank the editors for their consideration. Attach the news release as a Word Document and photos as .jpg or .png images.
4. Be Thorough: Make sure to include all important details, like name, address, email and phone number. For events, use the formula of time, date, then place for consistency and simplicity.
5. Be Readable: Ask yourself what your audience wants to know, then answer those questions. Keep the news release under 400 words, and check it closely for grammatical and spelling errors before you submit it to news outlets. Use short sentences and short paragraphs.
6. Be Conversational: You can use templates to provide a structure for your news release, but put the information in your own words. Otherwise, the news release sounds “canned.”
7. Be Visual: Include 1-2 photos with the news release. Write a caption explaining what each photo is about. Identify people in photos by first and last name, left to right. Identify them by title, too.
8. Be Promotional: It’s OK to blow your horn! A great way to do this is by quoting someone who has something positive to say. Quotes are great because they let people tell their own stories. Plus, the reader’s eyes are attracted to quotes.
9. Be Informational: As an addendum to your news release, include an “About Us” paragraph describing your business or organization. It’s your last chance to leave an impact on the editor, so make it professional and descriptive, but brief.
10. Be Patient: Write it. Edit it. Share it with colleagues. Tweak it. Sleep on it. Then submit it.
11. Be Careful: When you submit a news release to media outlets, be sure you attach the correct document and photograph. This prevents embarrassing follow-up emails to correct your mistake.
12. Be Knowledgeable: Do some research to determine the best media outlets for your announcement. Use the correct email for the media outlet or the submission process that is standard for the media outlet.
13. Be Smart: Consider partnering with a professional like Writer to the Rescue to prepare your news release. What’s your specialty? Chances are, it may not be writing news releases! It happens to be a specialty of mine. To get started, contact Joan@writertotherescue.com.